Thursday, April 24, 2014

Examiner.com article on candidates meeting Earth Day filing deadline part 2

Sally Petersen, here seen campaigning for City Council in 2012, is one of four candidates running for Ann Arbor Mayor.
Credit: Petersen's campaign website.
County and municipal candidates in Washtenaw County filed by Earth Day
In addition to the candidates for federal and state offices who had to meet the Earth Day filing deadline for the August 5th primary.  Major party candidates for county and municipal offices up for election this year also needed to file by 4:00 P.M. Tuesday with the Washtenaw County Clerk as well.

Independent candidates can still appear on the November ballot, but they must file by July 17th.
...
No Republicans filed for Mayor or City Council in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, only Democrats.  That means that, absent an independent challenger, the winner of the Democratic primary in August will run unopposed in November.
Yesterday, I promised that "I'll write up the county and municipal candidates tomorrow."  It's yesterday's tomorrow, so I've kept my promise.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Examiner.com article on candidates meeting Earth Day filing deadline part 1

Caption: Gary Peters along with campaign staff and volunteers deliver nominating petitions Monday the 21st to get him on the ballot for U.S. Senate.
Credit: Gary Peters Campaign Facebook page
Candidates for federal and state office in Washtenaw County meet filing deadline
Earth Day was not just a day to celebrate the environment here in Michigan.  It was also the deadline for candidates of the two major parties seeking partisan political office to file their petitions or pay their filing fees.  This meant that people running as either Democrats or Republicans for positions from Senator and Governor down to City Council and Township Supervisor had to get their application to the Secretary of State for statewide office or the County Clerk by 4:00 P.M. for all other offices to get their names on the ballot for the August 5th primary.

Four candidates for federal and state office waited until the final hours to do so, as the Michigan Secretary of State shows that Democrat Pam Byrnes and Republican Stephen Farkas, who are running for Congress in the 7th and 12th Districts respectively, and Republicans Ed Moore and Leonard Burke, who are running for State House in the 54th and 55th Districts respectively, all filed on the 22nd.

As the situation stands now, there will be contested primary elections for the Republican nominees for both Congressional districts, where Douglas Radcliffe North is challenging incumbent Tim Walberg in the 7th and Terry Bowman and Stephen Farkas are facing off in the 12th, and for the 54th State House District, where Ed Moore and John Nazars will see who gets to take on incumbent David Rutledge.  There will also be a contested primary for the Democratic nomination for the 12th Congressional District with Ray Mullins challenging Debbie Dingell, the wife of incumbent John Dingell.
List of candidates at the link in the headline.

I'll write up the county and municipal candidates tomorrow.  Right now, it's time to go to bed!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014


Happy Earth Day!  To celebrate the day, here are two items about what NASA and Purdue University are doing today.  First, NASA's Earth Day 2014 Promo.

Enjoy the beautiful scenery on Earth as NASA takes part in a worldwide celebration of Earth Day.  Join us this year with the agency's #GlobalSelfie event.
Next, Purdue University reports Purdue researcher plans Global Soundscapes Day to record sounds of the Earth.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University researcher is collaborating with partners across the globe for a special Earth Day experience on Tuesday (April 22) designed to capture up to 1 million natural sound recordings and upload them for preservation.

Global Soundscapes Day, led by Purdue ecologist Bryan Pijanowski, will shine the spotlight on the importance of natural soundscapes and the potential for growing research and encouraging middle school and high school students about the career potentials in this field.

"Our aim is to get people from all walks of life and from across the world to record their soundscapes and to answer questions related to how they relate to them," said Pijanowski, a Purdue professor of forestry and natural resources.

"We hope to use these collected soundscapes from Earth Day 2014 to change the sound of public spaces, hospitals and other venues, replacing them with sounds that make us feel good, sounds that are peaceful and restful."
Once again, Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

My thoughts on Michael Ruppert


I've been showing my students "The End of Suburbia," in which Ruppert played an important role, one almost as big as Kunstler, for the past five or six years.  That means I've listened to his recorded words and watched his filmed image at least thirty times (twice a semester, three semesters a year).  Even though I never met the man either, I have a sense of the man.  I can say that knowing that I won't see anything new from the man elicits a sense of loss from me.

As for the demons that haunted him, I watched some of the opening of "Apocalypse: Man" from Vice.  Ruppert was very clear about how little hope he had.  He sounded like one of the people who think that humans will go extinct by 2030.  I guess he didn't want to be around to see that happen.

Also, Vice described some of his other history, such as his confronting the CIA director over allegations of the agency's involvement in illegal drugs and Ruppert's later dabbling in 9/11 Trutherism.  When Ruppert's death was reported on Raw Story, that's the tack that the reporter took, calling Ruppert a conspiracy theorist.  That drew dozens, if not hundreds, of Ruppert's fans to defend him.

About that slant on the story, I have two things to say.  First, it vastly underplayed Ruppert's involvement in the peak oil community.  I don't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing.  On the one hand, it slighted an important aspect of the man and his message.  On the other hand, it didn't tar peak oil with the same brush as the conspiracy theories.

Second, it's a sign of how people on what passes for the American Left engaged in a form of "Evil, Be my Good."  When an unnamed Bush Administration official mocked the Administration's critics as "The reality-based community," Bush's opponents almost seemed as one to say, "yes, we are reality-based, and you're not."  I consider that to be one of the great rhetorical miscues of the 21st Century.  The upshot was for the bulk of the anti-Bush crowd to reject conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists as not reality-based, and that played out in the quotes Raw Story used in their obituary, including one from David Corn.

“'Conspiracy theories may seem more nuisance than problem,' wrote columnist David Corn about Ruppert’s work in 2002. 'But they do compete with reality for attention. There is plenty to be outraged over without becoming obsessed with X Files-like nonsense.'”

Above originally posted as a comment to The End of Employment at The Archdruid Report.

I'll have reaction to Ruppert's death from other bloggers as well as to my comments from other readers of Greer's blog later.  Stay tuned.  Until then, here's a thought from Escape from Wisconsin's eulogy at The Hipcrime Vocab.

Twins on Earth and Space


I'm going to have something serious in the morning.  Tonight, I present two stories on twins from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Kepler-186f).  First, University of Cincinnati brings the news about twins on Earth in Double the PharmD(NA) in 2014 Pharmacy School Class posted April 17, 2014.
To the best of recollections, there's never been a set of twins graduate from the James L. College of Pharmacy, so it's a pretty safe bet that 2014 is the first year the college will graduate two sets: identical twins Kayla and Michelle McWilliams and fraternal twins Ameera and Jameela Aladimi- all of whom will receive their PharmD degrees on April 27.

"We make independent decisions, but a lot of times we still wind up in the same place," Kayla McWilliams says of their choice to carry on a family tradition and attend pharmacy school at UC.
Next, Science at NASA talks about twins in space in ScienceCasts: Separated at Launch.

Next year, with the assistance of the world's only twin astronauts, NASA will conduct an unprecedented experiment in human biology. While one twin remains on the ground, the other will circle Earth onboard the International Space Station for a full year. Will the twins still be identical when they are re-united? The answer could help NASA make space travel safer for generations of astronauts to come.
Here's to these three sets of twins contributing to health, science, and space.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

'Years of Living Dangerously'


While I was featuring Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Late Night for Apophis Day to mark the showings of "Cosmos" last week, another media event even more appropriate for my Sunday night collapse-and-decline-related entertainment entries was taking place, the premiere of "Years of Living Dangerously."  Here's the second trailer for the series.

Don't miss the documentary series premiere of Years of Living Dangerously, Sunday, April 13th at 10PM ET/PT.
...
It's the biggest story of our time. Hollywood's brightest stars and today's most respected journalists explore the issues of climate change and bring you intimate accounts of triumph and tragedy. YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY takes you directly to the heart of the matter in this awe-inspiring and cinematic documentary series event from Executive Producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The entire first episode is available for free on YouTube.  Watch it there.

I knew of the show because of the following press release from Texas Tech: Climate Scientist to Appear with Don Cheadle on Showtime written by John Davis on April 4, 2014.
Katharine Hayhoe will discuss findings in premier of "Years of Living Dangerously."

A Texas Tech university climate scientist will appear with Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle in a new nine-episode Showtime documentary series covering climate change and its effect on people around the globe.

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, will discuss her climate findings with Cheadle, who serves as a U.N. Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme, during the premier episode at 9 p.m. (CDT) April 13 on the Showtime cable network.

On April 7, viewers can catch the full first episode of Years of Living Dangerously free at http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/where-to-watch/.

“I hope this program will show us how climate change isn’t just some far-off issue that only matters to our children’s children, the polar bears in the Arctic or to islanders in the South Seas,” Hayhoe said. “Climate change is already affecting our lives today right here in the places where we live. It’s changing the birds, bugs and plants we see in our backyards. It’s affecting where we grow our food and how much water we have, altering the shape of our coastlines and increasing the risks of many types of extreme weather.”
I've been thinking about replacing "An Inconvenient Truth" with another film.  My first choice is "Chasing Ice."  I might use one of the episodes of this show instead.

On that note, Happy Earth Week and Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Examiner.com article on Kepler-186f

NASA announced the discovery of five planets in the Kepler-186 system, 500 light years from Earth.  This diagram compares our Solar System with the Kepler-186 system.
Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech
U-M astronomer part of team that discovered Kepler-186f
This past Thursday, NASA announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, which the agency's press release called "the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the 'habitable zone'--the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet."  The press release emphasized the significance of the find by noting that "the discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun."

University of Michigan astronomer and physicist Fred C. Adams was one of the team of scientists that analyzed the data from the Kepler space telescope.  In a press release, Adams said, "One of the most interesting questions in science is whether life can arise on other planets or, alternatively, if life on this planet is unique. The discovery of planets with Earth-like properties is one important link in the chain required to answer this question. And the discovery of the planet Kepler-186f is an important step toward finding a planet that is like our Earth."

In the team's paper, "An Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star," which was published in the journal Science on Friday, April 18, 2014, reported that Kepler-186f most likely has a diameter eleven percent larger than Earth's.  This makes it smaller than previous rocky planets discovered by Kepler in the habitable zones of their stars, all of which have had diameters more than forty percent larger than Earth's and thus less suitable candidates for life as humans know it.

In the NASA press release, the paper's lead author Elisa V. Quintana elaborated on the significance of the finding, saying, "We know of just one planet where life exists -- Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth. Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward."
Much more at the link, including a video from Geobeats that contains quotes from Quintana and another researcher I quoted in the article.  Here is the YouTube embed of it.

Newly found 'Earth cousin' may support life

In a remarkable new finding, astronomers reviewing Kepler's images say they have discovered the most earth-like planet yet.

Officially called Kepler-186f, the astronomers don't know too much about it including if it has a protective atmosphere, but it orbits in the habitable zone of its star and is a similar size to Earth, which could mean water may very well exist.

They also don't know the mass and composition, but despite all that, the discovery is a very important one as it proves that there could be a slew of other planets in space similar to Earth and potentially suitable for life that have yet to be spotted.
I've already included both of the above in tonight's Overnight News Digest at Daily Kos as this week's feature story.  I'm not above promoting my own work there.

On 'Weimar America' with The Archdruid and his readers


I know I promised to post my observations on Fascism and the Future, Part Two: The Totalitarian Center at the end of The Archdruid on Fascism, part 1, that's going to take a while to put together.  Instead, I'm going to jump ahead to a thread from Fascism and the Future, Part Three: Weimar America, in which I riffed on the title.
"Weimar America" is a phrase that is becoming more and more popular, with more than 4000 hits for links that use that exact phrase and millions of hits for links that use both in the same text.  The first page of Google returns results from such reputable sources at Salon, The New Republic, and The American Conservative--oh, and you, too.  All of them seem to be from the current decade.  It's a meme that is in definitely in the air.
Greer isn't the only collapse/Peak Oil blogger to invoke the Weimar Republic.  Kunstler has done so twice, first in We're Weimar and again in Weimar meets Waterloo.  He also freaked out over Sarah Palin as Memorial Day: Enter Hitler, Release 2.0 in his own warning of Fascist takeover, but that's a topic for another day.  Besides, he was wrong.  Back to Greer, whose response struck me as surprisingly hopeful.
Pinku-sensei, that's one of the few reassuring things I can think of about all this. If a phrase like that has become part of the standard rap of the chattering classes, we probably don't have to worry about it as much.
Dwig followed up to both of us by listing the sources for the use of the phrase.
Out of curiosity, I did a search for it. Here's a few of the sites, with ideological labels attached, based on what I saw at the sties. (Yes, I know, don't put much weight on them, but it does give a pretty good indication that it's not just one group's obsession.)

    - alternet.org: liberal
    - libertyunyielding.com/: conservative
    - truthdig.com: liberal
    - prorevnews.blogspot.com: progressive
    - newrepublic.com: conservative
    - attackthesystem.com: pan-anarchism
    - hnn.us: history news network
    - swordattheready.wordpress.com: christian right
    - theamericanconservative.com: what it says
The New Republic is more liberal or centrist than conservative, but otherwise it's a good analysis of the sources.

Greer appreciated the list, writing "Dwig, fascinating. Thanks for the leads."  I hope all my readers found them useful, too.

I'll return in the future with more on The Archdruid on Fascism and the future, including comments on what constitutes Left and Right, observations on his scenario of a fascist takeover, and an aside on the LaRouche movement.  Given the way I operate, I'll probably get to that last one first.  LaRouche's disciples are in the news this election season, including a return engagement of the one I encountered in A-10s on parade.  Stay tuned.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Another engagement in the gas price war goes as predicted


It's prediction checking time again.  In Another advance in the gas price war, I described the latest action in progress in the local gas price war.
Monday, the corner station charged into No Man's Land, shooting its price up to $3.89, which meant that the price for the next grade up was $4.04.  Egads, $4 gas again!  Meanwhile the stations down the street were still at $3.60.  Tuesday evening, they had all raised their prices for regular to $3.65, while the corner station had dropped what they were charging for regular to $3.79.  My prediction that the neighborhood price would go up to $3.64-$3.69 has come true.  Now all that's left is for the corner station to match the other three, something that should happen by Thursday.
That's exactly what happened.  Thursday night, I drove past all four stations.  The three down the street were still at $3.65 and the corner station had joined them.  Success!

How about the next prediction?
The next question becomes what is GasBuddy indicating for the trend?  The national average has continued up slowly and is now between $3.61 and $3.62.  The Detroit average bounced up on Monday to $3.75 and is now between $3.76 and $3.77.  Even if the latter price ends up being the peak for the week, so long as the slow decline that would follow keeps the price above $3.75, the neighborhood stations will still be underpriced and I would expect the next jump would be to $3.69.  That could happen this weekend to take advantage of Easter weekend travel, but I would think it more likely early next week.  Stay tuned.
The national average is still creeping up and is now between $3.62 and $3.63.  Meanwhile, the Detroit average has dropped below $3.75.  The neighborhood stations are no longer underpriced, so I no longer think they'll raise prices before the Easter weekend.  The earliest move should be early next week.  Based on the national average continuing its steady rise, I still think $3.69 is in the cards.  A price rise higher than that shouldn't be, as crude oil has been bouncing around while moving mostly sideways the past few days, as Reuters reports Brent oil falls as Ukraine, Russia seek to end violence.
Brent crude for June delivery, which has received support in recent days as violence in Ukraine escalated, settled down 7 cents at $109.53 a barrel, after earlier hitting a high of $110.19 ahead of the joint statement.
...
U.S. prices found support from strong U.S. employment data, which showed new applications for unemployment benefits close to a 6-1/2-year low, the latest sign the economy of the world's largest oil consumer is gaining momentum.

U.S. oil for delivery in May settled up 54 cents at $104.30 a barrel, after earlier hitting a high of $104.78 a barrel. The contract had touched a six-week high of $104.99 in the previous session, though a report showing a large build in stockpiles weighed on sentiment on Wednesday.
So crude oil is stalling out.  So far, RBOB gasoline isn't, as the Wall Street Journal reports.
Gasoline supplies fell slightly last week to 210.3 million barrels, the lowest level since November, the EIA said. Stocks are "lower than they ought to be for this time of year," ahead of the summer-driving season, Mr. Lebow said.

Front-month May reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, rose 1.42 cents, or 0.5%, to $3.0547 a gallon, the highest price since Aug. 29, 2012. Prices are up 1.3% for the week.
Based on that wholesale price, gas won't stop at $3.69 after next week, no matter what crude oil does.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What The Archdruid ignored in 'Mentats wanted'


In The Archdruid and I talk real estate, I mentioned that I commented about more than just real estate and would talk about it later.
Greer and I got into a side conversation in the comments to Mentats Wanted, Will Train--real estate.  Even though I had plenty of things to say about the main topic, that's what he responded to.
...
I'll get back to the rest of the conversation...later.
As I type this, I'm waiting for the comment about the death of Michael Ruppert I left at Greer's most recent entry, The End of Employment, to make it through moderation.  Waiting is reminding me of the points I made that weren't addressed two weeks ago, so I feel now is an appropriate time to post them.  Follow over the jump.